By Adam Van Dop
Paul writes in Ephesians about putting on the armour of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), and about how we need to ‘take up’ the protective defensive and offensive gear that God has already made and provided for us – so that we might be able to stand true in the ‘evil day’ when it arises.
These items consist of:
1. Belt of truth – something to hold truth close to yourself,
2. Breastplate of righteousness – living a godly lifestyle, because it’s from your heart,
3. Shoes of readiness – to stand firm, and to be ready to act when called upon,
4. Shield of faith – something to protect ourselves from the attacks of the devil,
5. Helmet of salvation – to have a mind and thought life run by God, filled with His word,
& 6. Sword of the Spirit – to know the words of scripture and to be sharpened by them.
While on holidays in Kauai (airmiles = bigger smiles!) with my family, everyone around took an immediate liking to my 8 month old daughter. Every where we went, strangers paid attention to her. Being an already proud parent, this only made me prouder. She in turn would smile back at everyone, and stare back at them with her big beautiful blue eyes. The strangers would in turn do the typical "I'm-looking-at-a-baby-and-I-don't-care-what-any-one-else-thinks-about-my-baby-attention-grabbing-techniques" thing. My little girl would continue to smile and then giggle because of their antics, only making them try more and more to make her smile and giggle (which really isn't all that difficult).
One night, while relaxing after putting our little girl to bed, my wife and I were talking about what makes people automatically attracted to our daughter.
Was it her cute blond hair? Perhaps, but no.
Was it her little way she plays with her fingers? No.
Was it her way of babbling random sounds to herself? No.
Every baby does those.
It was then we figured it was her sunglasses.
Before our holidays, my wife went out searching for baby sunglasses that actually looked good, not Disney sponsored, or any other movie inspired pair, but normal, plain - modern sunglasses.
My wife succeeded. She found a pair of white large sized glasses with a few rhinestones on the sides.
She looks like a movie star when she has them on. And she makes everyone smile.
Why can't we as Christian’s do the same? And get the same kind of attention – or at least similar responses when others discover our beliefs and principles?
God gave us 6 tools, 6 pieces of armour for our lives – and yet we as Christians still have a bit of a bad reputation around us.
Why can't we make everyone we come into contact with smile?
Why can't we make everyone we see have a better day?
Why can't we see that same reaction when we're out and about?
I’m not saying that we should put on this magical piece of clothing or accessory and automatically make Christianity attractive – that’s impossible. What I am saying, is that we should have this ability to cause people to smile, to make people feel better about themselves. There is no t-shirt that can cause people to change. There is no WWJD bracelet that can do the same.
Have you ever heard people say, “there’s something different about that person, I don’t know what it is, I feel drawn to them.” I think that ‘something different’ might have something to do with my daughter’s sunglasses. There was this attractive quality that was a part of her, and people noticed.
The figurative language that Paul uses in his text is that of militaristic, it’s a language and metaphor that the Ephesians would have understood. Every day early Jews saw Roman soldiers marching through their streets, guarding specific places, and maintaining the Roman peace and status quo. So this defensive and offensive language would have not fallen on deaf ears. But now, currently, in an entirely different North American context, it is possible that this metaphor might just be misunderstood.
We take this metaphor and use the defensive weapons; we get stuck up against walls and fight back when we are attacked, when politics happen, when social standards change, etc.
We take this metaphor and use the offensive weapons; we stand on corners shouting at people to change (Rob Bell’s Nooma video: Bullhorn), we wear crosses and WWJD bracelets …
Perhaps we have missed the point.
This armour that Paul talks about is not about putting on physical armour. We don’t have to go rush to our local medieval outlet store and stock up on breastplates and chainmail. Nor do we have to put Jesus fish on our cars or WWJD bracelets on our wrists.
What we must do, is look at our actions, our lives, and address how we dress ourselves with love, so that we can properly communicate the love of Christ to others.
My daughter probably has no idea about what was drawing her all the attention, perhaps one day she’ll figure it out and use it to her benefit. And perhaps one day, we Christians can figure out this acting in love, that attractive quality, spilling out of our bottles of salt, and making a difference, all the while holding the full armour of God within our hearts.